Candidates With These 3 Qualities Will Thrive in Your Tight-Knit Organization

By Chris Murdock

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Deciding to bring on additional team members is a landmark decision for any small business or startup. Maybe you’ve been considering expanding your team for a while and weighed the pros and cons carefully, or maybe hiring was not on your mind, but sudden growth is prompting you to need to hire ASAP. Either way, there are many factors to take into account when hiring such as budget, recruitment strategies, job descriptions, screening, research processes, interviewing tactics, and more.

But many small businesses and startup owners fail to ask themselves an important question when they begin hiring; Will this candidate thrive in a small team?

With large teams, it’s much easier to avoid conflicting personalities. Small teams do not have that luxury. For small teams, hiring cooperative employees committed to getting along is of the utmost importance. Due to the fast-paced nature of a startup, hiring high-performers eager to get along with diversity of thought is a must.

Start with a dynamite job description

A rushed or mismanaged hiring process can be financially lethal to a small business. SHRM estimates the cost of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding a new employee can be as much as $240,000. A bad hire could mean all that time and money went to waste, and before you know it, you’re recruiting again.

Set yourself up for success by crafting a specific and honest job description. This sounds like a no-brainer, but in reality, this step is often seen as busywork and completed without care. Remember that a job description used for recruitment is not the same as an internal job description.

Here are the dos and don’ts of creating a job description 

Do: 

  • Summarize the position in no more than two sentences early in the description.
  • Be clear about must-haves.
  • Include photos or even video to show the culture at your company. Don’t worry about contracting an agency. Casual videos shot on a phone are even effective.
  • Infuse your company values into the copy.
  • Consult with other employees to ensure the job description reflects the team’s interpretation of the employee — especially if they will work with the new hire daily. Lack of clarity between current employees can make hiring difficult for managers and candidates.

Don’t: 

  • Don’t use a generic template. Candidates see heaps of job descriptions. Make yours stand out.
  • Don’t include office jargon, superlatives, or too many acronyms. This can make even the most qualified candidates feel unsure of themselves and opt not to apply.
  • Don’t use gender or age-specific language. Using exclusive language can turn talent away.
  • Don’t make the description longer than one page. Candidates are likely reading a lot of job descriptions. Make yours short and specific for better chances of it being read.

These tips will ensure you’re receiving relevant applications and set yourself up for successful interviewing. Next, Look for these three qualities in applicants:

1. Candidates who are comfortable being uncomfortable

Members of a small team will often wear many hats. They may also be asked to lend a hand where needed, even if it is outside their department. For some, learning new skills can be uncomfortable. This is why it’s important that you hire employees who are willing to try new things and don’t shy away from tasks they have less experience with.

Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart: HR, cautions against hiring some types of corporate employees, saying “It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but [corporate workers] may be predisposed to only working in their lane and not collaborating across departments. You want someone willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Practical ways to screen applicants for this quality are hosting a group interview, running a game-like simulation as a part of the interview, or asking the applicant to shadow for an afternoon.

2. Candidates who are resourceful with their time

Search for candidates who maximize their time by working smarter rather than harder. Agility is crucial for small businesses, especially those who are experiencing growth. You need to be able to scale quickly as your business grows, but because of budget limitations, scaling can’t always mean hiring additional employees. To successfully scale with limited bandwidth, hire employees who are resourceful problem-solvers rather than employees who rely on additional employees at every turn.

Resourceful employees know that managing a heavy workload doesn’t always mean burning the midnight oil; it means evaluating tech, systems, and processes to search for more efficient solutions.

3. Candidates who take initiative

If you’ve made the choice to expand your team, one of your goals is likely to reduce your workload. Hire candidates who have not only have the confidence to take responsibilities off your plate, but also those who can do so without step-by-step instructions. What team leader doesn’t love an employee willing to take on additional or challenging tasks? If the employee needs extensive instruction or can’t seem to complete tasks they take on, the point is moot, and management or their coworkers eventually end up completing the task themselves.

The ability to anticipate the needs of leadership and others in a small team is invaluable, especially within a fast-paced startup. During the interview, ask candidates about times they took the initiative by solving a problem before it even came to the team’s attention.

Finding the right new hire for your company can be overwhelming. After all, adding new employees to a small organization is costly, and these new employees will forge culture norms that the future company will be built on. Early-stage hiring decisions need special attention. 

This article was originally published on the IQTalent Partners Blog.

About Chris Murdock:

Chris Murdock is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has over 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships along with supporting searches across the firm. Prior to Founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a sourcer with Yahoo!’s internal Executive Recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California.

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